Equine Gestalt Coaching

The Mission Statement of The Ranches,

Rekindling HOPE for At Risk Youth,” when combined with our purpose statement, “To provide services for young people and families in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow,” allows a simple truth to emerge: Hope is Powerful.

Our Mission statement not only defines what we do, but the difference we work to make in the lives of young people. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” The emergence of hope takes time for kids and includes many milestones along the way: seeing themselves as valuable, having a vision for their future, having the skills needed to provide for themselves, finding a profession that they enjoy, feeling safe, knowing how to develop a healthy support system, finding love and knowing there is a loving God who cares about them. While development of this vision for their future takes time, young people who learn to believe that they are valuable and who are able to find their worth, are transformed by their hope.


Located on 2200 acres in the Rio Grande Valley, The Ranches gives children the opportunity to heal through a comprehensive program and by relocating kids to a rural environment free of many of the negative influences and distractions of “city life”. Hard work, structure, education, faith, honesty, healthy adult relationships and positive peer relationships form the foundation of our program at The Ranches.


Throughout our history, we have worked to stay current and innovative in our approach to healing and to hope. We are currently looking forward to adding Equine Gestalt Coaching to our program through Lani Kull, Vice President for Program Services, and her experiential learning at Touched by a Horse. While Lani has always been effective at reaching our toughest and most stubborn clients, we are confident that she will add exponentially to her ability through her process. By encouraging and helping kids to partner with horses, we fully believe that EGC, when combined with our educational and life skills programs, will help us to rekindle hope in the youth that we have the honor of serving.

The Equine Gestalt Coaching Method® was developed by Melisa Pearce, a core founder since 1989 of the horse-human healing movement. The experiential nature of the method involves the horse as an active partner with the coach in the client’s exploratory process. The integrative approach of the equine’s interaction combined with positive coaching, somatic awareness guidance and Gestalt methodology assists the client in examining their life and choices made with a focus on designing a positive future.


After graduation, he decided that he wanted to spend the summer working on a ranch. Since I was still related to the people running The Ranch and because he was my best friend, I made a couple of calls and landed us summer internships there. We were cowboys! While I was apprehensive about heading back to the ranch and to the kids that I had worked so hard to leave behind, I was happy to start a new adventure with my friend. In a few short days, we went from city slickers to cowboys, and I went from shorts and Air Jordans to Wranglers and Justin Ropers.

While I had originally planned to avoid the kids at the ranch, it was much harder than I thought. On our first day, we were asked to help out with some tree trimming. My new boss, Pop something or other, was standing in the bucket of a front-end-loader that was extended high into the trees. In the cab of the front-end loader, a ranch kid named Mark sat. Mark was a curious young man who had trouble sitting still. The cab of the front-end loader presented him with a plethora of knobs, levers, and

buttons. With the luck that only comes when it is not needed, Mark chose the lever that dumped the bucket on his first foray into seeing what all these knobs, levers, and buttons did. Pop happened to be cutting a branch with a chainsaw at the moment Mark found the lever. Thankfully, the chainsaw fell to the ground without incident and Pop was able to grab the top of the bucket and pull himself up on it. And as he did, a string of curse words that could only be described as truck-stop-impressive was unleashed from his mouth.

Mark sat very still and listened intently to the entire tirade. As Pop climbed down the long arms of the front-end loader, Mark slowly looked up at the adult that he had almost injured. I expected an apology or at least an acknowledgment of what might have happened, but it never came. Instead, Mark cocked his head to the side and said, “Pop, I don’t think we’re supposed to cuss at the ranch.”

As he said this, Pop’s face turned bright red. My friend and I began to smile and try to find something to busy ourselves with so we didn’t have to acknowledge that Mark had just offered the only perfect response to the situation. At that moment, I knew that avoiding the kids at the ranch would not be as easy as I had thought it would be.